Thursday, August 16, 2012

2012-13 Warriors Preview and Predictions


By Justin Taylor


This sums up the Warriors season preview and now for the predictions...

Every year within weeks of the release of the NBA schedule (and still months from training camp) the “experts” will go ahead tell you who the playoff teams are going to be and who’s going to be left out in the cold.  At this point I barely see the need to play the games since about 50 writers on Bleacher Report already told me who will be playing in May and June (I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen for yourself yet).  All I can think when I read the articles is that they know about as much as my favorite weatherman while they claim to be related to Nostradamus. 

Knowing that I’m no better I think that’s exactly what makes this forecast more realistic right of the bat.  I don’t even need to say that my opinions are biased and that I only care about the Warriors prospects.  I can also come right out and admit that when they go ahead with the formality of actually playing the games I’ll probably be proven not to know shit.  Instead of trying to call every game as a win or a loss (which I’ll probably do with my wallet on sportsbook.com more then a few times during the season) I’m going to breakdown our opponents based on the contenders, pretenders and rear enders in each conference.

Western Conference

The Contenders

Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs (4 games each):

These are the true contenders in the West that we play four times each.  With Finals and Olympics experience under their belts the Thunder’s trio of stars aren’t going anywhere.  They are going to continue stepping forward and even if the Spurs take a step back (as expected) they are the two teams that worry me the most.  Maybe my Laker Hater ways just have me seeing red, I just like the way we match up with them.  Once you get past Nash and Howard’s bad backs, Kobe’s bad knees and Pau’s ugly mug their best players are RonMetta ArtestPeace and Antawn Jamison.

Is it possible to hate the Lakers anymore?

Verdict: 3-9 • We can take at least one home game from each of these teams but I see a bloodbath waiting in OKC.  If we’re healthy this prediction could be considered conservative but if we’re not it’s probably going to be worse then nine losses in twelve games.

The Pretenders

Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers (4 games each):

Our matchups with the Clippers are going to be interesting only if Chris Paul’s knees hold up; hopefully he didn’t hit Germany with Kobe while they were winning gold in Europe.  Blake Griffin will be working through a knee issue of his own but I think it’s his lack of skill and LO-K’s (Lamar Odom-Kardashian) lack of heart that give us the advantage here.  Overpaying a past his prime Jamal Crawford to be a poor mans Monta Ellis isn’t going to sway my opinion on this one.  I’m more worried about Denver to be honest because they are athletic, fast and deep.  Those three little Nuggets (lame pun intended) coupled with their Mile High advantage are a deadly mixture.

Verdict: 4-4 • I’m going out on a limb to say we split these games and I’m predicting we take the season series against the Clippers and drop an extra contest to the Nuggets.

The Competitors

Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Portland Trailblazers (3 games each):

This is going to be the most important 12 games we’ll play this season.  The tiebreakers at stake here won’t be for a lottery pick this time around.  Some combination of these three teams and the Warriors will occupy the five through eight spots on the playoff tree.  I think we can actually own three of the four matchups but the Grizzlies still scare me.  If Golden State can own the Mavericks and split with the others or just go 2-1 against all of them we may just come out of this group with a playoff spot.

Verdict: 8-4 • I’m going to get crazy by assuming that we have a healthy roster this season (if I didn’t I could have cut this article off after a paragraph or two) and giving the Warriors the edge against all of the teams in this dogfight.

The Rear Enders

New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns (4 games each):

These are the teams we should be expected to beat on a regular basis.  People say that Minnesota will be our main competition for one of the final playoff spots but I don’t see it.  If Ricky Rubio isn’t back and ready to start the season (and he won’t be) they’re sunk.  Luke Ridnour wasn’t a starting point guard on a playoff team before he was washed up.  Sacramento is hanging by a thread on all fronts; the Hornets are years away with or without the Unibrow; the Rockets are a bunch of spare parts assembled for a trade that didn’t happen and the Suns are just going to suck.  Pheonix did win the Luis Scola Sweepstakes but they also added Jermaine Oneal’s corpse which evens that deal out.

Verdict: 15-5 • If we don’t feast on these inexperienced and mish mashed teams we’re the ones that are going to be rear enders.

Eastern Conference

The Contenders

Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls (2 games each):

Last year we stole one early in the season against the Heat that really just masked what needed to be done for a couple of months after…an all out tank job.  We should take one of our two meetings with them this season.  That statement alone is progress.  We can spread them out and burn them down low like few others can.  These are going to be fun games, unless Bogut isn’t ready for them.  As for the Bulls and the Celtics, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t split our games with them at the very least.  This whole confidence in the Warriors thing is really starting to grow on me.  I better tone it down a little.

Verdict: 3-3 • We are taking two of the three home games against the East’s three best teams and right now I’m assuming we can steal another one or two on the road.

The Pretenders

Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks (2 games):

This is where Bob Fitzgerald exclaims, “If the Warriors played in the East they’d be a shoe in for the playoffs!”  Out of the remaining Eastern Conference playoff teams the Sixers and Pacers probably present the biggest challenges.  They are young, deep and hungry…sound familiar?  The Knicks can probably beat anyone on any given night and will also beat themselves nearly as often.  The Hawks and Nets can both match up pretty well to start the game but a Jay-Z / Kanye West diss track won’t help them against our second unit.

Verdict: 5-5 • In many ways some of this group presents more problems for the Warriors then Boston or Chicago.  Even though they aren’t contenders they are deep.  On paper it seems like there might actually be eight legitimate playoff teams in the east this year.

The Rear Enders

Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Washington Bullets, Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors (2 games each):

Expect this duo to shoot the Bucks out of a lot of games this year

The bottom half of the Eastern Conference is like the floater in the toilet that just won’t flush.  If the Warriors don’t use these games to pad our win loss record we’re going to be in trouble.  Our big Western Conference wins will be meaningless if we don’t take full advantage of these 14 dates.  I expect Monta Ellis to put up a fight against his former team before he and Brandon Jennings ultimately shoot the Bucks out of those games.  The Raptors and Bullets are terrible and the Pistons, Raptors or Cavs are at least a season away from being mediocre.  Orlando and Charlotte will be the fighting for the number one pick this year and if any of those contests end up in losses (like the Bobcats game last year) I’m going to be sick.  I still can’t believe we were one of the six wins for the worst team in history last season.  If they I’m going to call Latrell Sprewell and ask him to “talk” to Mark Jackson for us.

Verdict: 11-3 • Every loss against any of these teams will be just as devastating as a win against the Lakers, Thunder or Heat would be encouraging.  I’ll just leave it at that.

I predict a Finals rematch but Kevin Durant just might need to go through the Warriors to get there

Recap: It’s quite simple really.  Stay healthy, beat the teams you’re supposed, handle business against your closest rivals and steal a couple at home against the cream of the crop.  That is pretty much the recipe every year but this is the first time since 07-08 that we can really be expected to do that.  If Stephen Curry’s or especially Andrew Bogut’s ankles are not up to the task I will be issuing full refunds for this column and removing it from the site by January.

Final Verdict: 46-36 • The Warriors have a playoff roster but so do about eight or nine other Western Conference teams.  I tried to be optimistic (mostly on the health front) and realistic at the same time.  All I know is that everyone, including the fans, will need to be ready to do their part this season.  I was encouraged after I predicted 46 wins before looking at the schedule and then landed on that number in this exercise.  Now I’m taking that number to the Sports Book!

15 comments:

  1. 46 wins sounds pretty good to me

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  2. I would put the grizzlies into to the contenders in the west. They're for real. 46 wins sounds good to me, but it might not be enough to make the playoffs.

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    1. You might be able to switch them out for the Spurs but OKC and LA will still get them in a playoff series. You could probably switch out the Bulls in the East too but I just think if D. Rose comes back in the second half they'll do damage in the playoffs...and the scary thing is that you're right...In my mind this was an optimistic outlook and 46 wins would be great but still might not be enough.

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    2. I really don't think the Bulls make the playoffs unless D Rose plays 41 or more games. I just don't see that happening. Love D Rose, wish he would be ready to go from the get.

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    3. Did you look at their record without Rose last season? They were way over .500 which is good enough for a top 5 spot in the east if they can do it again...If he comes back for the playoffs watch out...If I'm running the Bulls I hold him out as long as I possibly can and only bring him back before March if the postseason hopes are in jeopardy.

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  3. 46 wins is likely a playoff spot... I know we look at the West and remember our 48 win season that did not get us in. I have been saying since last year that the bottom of the West playoff contenders are not getting better in comparison to the East. I think the conferences will even out this year. It is my prediction that no below .500 team will make the playoffs this year for the first time in a while.

    Look realistically at the Washington Wizards. JT, you do not think they are a decent team. I whole heartedly disagree. They made a trade in the off-season with the Hornets and a late season trade with the Nuggets last year that gave them a great front court to go with John Wall. Anyone who is a serious basketball fan knows John Wall is a badass PG. Now their starting lineup looks like Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Omeka Okafor. I have looked at this starting lineup and questioned whether I would rather have the Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Rush, Lee, and Bogut over the Wizards' lineup. It is a tough question. Considering likely injury... ok I will stop there.

    I mentioned Rush as a starter... After resigning with the Warriors, he made a big deal about wanting to start. Good for him, good for the Warriors. The most likely spot for him to take is at the 3. Harrison Barnes might start at some time this season, but I can see the starting job just as easily being taken away from Barnes in his first season. I have changed my mind about this, since Barnes did not have a great over all summer league... He shot poorly overall, and his defense could be better. We will see against the real NBA players what he can do, but I wouldn't expect it to get better than what he did in the summer until later development kicks in. That means to me Rush is the starter at the 3 for the majority of the season, unless Barnes proves me and the coaches wrong at some point.

    Another big Warriors headline... Steph Curry would not start if I am in charge. Jack is my starting PG, and Curry comes off the bench as a 6th man, playing either 1 or 2. This is something that could easily propel the Warriors into the playoffs. Jack is a very capable two-way PG... some consider him to be an average PG, but I think with the pieces around him, he could be much better. He is the guy that can get to the cup and draw fouls. We don't have another wing player who can consistently do that now. If Curry and Jack could get a nice passing game together, as Curry rolls off screens, this could be beautiful... At the same time, we might save Curry's ankles.


    Seriously, if the Warriors are healthy, yes 46 wins is easy.

    If you consider injury, I expect Ezeli to be a better center than Biedrins from game 1. In fact, what is so wrong with thinking of Ezeli as our new Kwame Brown?So, whether the injury is to Curry or Bogut, we are in a better place than we were last year, all around.

    Overall, if we don't make the playoffs, something went very wrong.

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    1. 1) I completely spaced on the Wizards by forgetting how much I liked there trades and addition by subtraction moves. Even in the east I still don't think they'll be a playoff team though. I like Wall but he's not the guy that is going to get Nene going or make Okafor respectable. Don't fret, the Warriors should still smoke these guys...who's first off the bench? That Vessley kid looked terrible in limited minutes last year and in summer league this year.

      2) Completely agree again on Rush. I don't get it when people say he's a shooting guard so he can't start at the 3...That argument holds no water when he would be our best shooter, ball handler, rebounder and defender at the small forward spot. MAKE BARNES EARN THAT SPOT!...period. If he does we'll all be better off for it.

      That Curry statement is a BOLD one Shawn. It's a great thought and it could potentially help by giving our second unit some serious firepower. Curry would be a rich man's Jamal Crawford off the bench (almost a lock for 6th man award) but we all know it won't happen. He's the face of the marketing campaign and they want to treat him like a prince until his next contract is signed. As classy as he is I'm sure he'd be pissed.

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    2. Totally agree with you all all of this, mate !

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    3. damn, with the injuries and the contract coming up... this would be a nice move with Curry... tho he wouldn't like it.

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  4. You're going to wish for 46 wins, then bet on it. Not smart.

    46 wins would be nice though. Let's go dubs!

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    1. I bet you're glad I won't be betting with your money huh?...lol...It probably won't even be the worst bet I make this season! One thing though...I didn't wish for 46 wins, I thought it was realistic, then I broke down the schedule and got the same number...

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  5. Hey, JT, great to have you back, mate. Been missing your astute punditry !

    I agree with most all of your reasoning. You have made ample valid cases to back up your hypothesis.
    Well Done.

    That being said, there are some personal preferences I have. Yes, just like mine and others viewpoints, including yours, a lot depends on health how it all shakes out, no ?
    And not just for our team, but for many of the other teams that we will be in close competition with for those last valuable playoff slots.

    For me, I just cannot see the Spurs as the #3. I have them below both my #3 and #4, the Grizz and the Clips. Yes, health again the factor. Paul's knees, the aging Spurs star trio, esp. Manu as he played on Argentina's Olympic Team.
    I think the Griz are an improved team without OJ there any more.

    I see you don't favor the TWolves as much as many of us. Again, quite tricky depending on Rubio and how quickly he can get up to speed after returning from his energy. The key for me was getting rid of Beasley and to a lesser extent, Wes Johnson. Now D. Williams can come and prove they made the right moves allowing him to shine. And, of course, they have the Love, the best 4 in the league. Pecovich is a rapidly improving player at a very vital spot, so I am willing to bet they, along with the Jazz and perhaps the Blazers will be our main head to head opponents.
    Jazz continues to improve as well. They have awesome bigs and lots of them. I am quite interested to see how Lillard does in Portland.
    If he too, stays healthy and gets on the fast track to fulfilling his awesome potential, just he and La Marcus alone could make the difference here.

    Other than that, well done, mate. It feels quite nice to chat with someone who thinks so much alike, even with the way you compose your article.

    And, PLEASE, JT, do give us more articles, more often, won't you ?

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    1. You said it Mr. Mean...We're definitely not the only ones that need a healthy squad to make it all the way through and while some are issues of age others are crossing their fingers and wishing for speedy recoveries just like us.

      I hate that Portland is going to be one of our closest competitors because I badly want to see the local kid Lillard be a stud and that could be detrimental to our playoff hopes...

      As always, thanks for reading and for weighing in with your own thoughtful analysis.

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